Stroud Short Stories is open for submissions until 29 September 2019

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Stroud Short Stories is open until the end of Sunday 29 September for submissions from Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire writers.

It’s free to submit and we will select ten stories to be read by their authors at our 19th event on Sunday 10 November at the 150-seater Cotswold Playhouse. Our last 13 events have all sold out.

The event is part of the 2019 Stroud Book Festival.

It’s an open theme this time so any subject matter, any style so long as it’s a short story of no more than 1,500 words.

Information about our rules and how to submit is on the SSS website.

Tickets, priced at £8, go on sale on the Playhouse website on 11 October.

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The Shadow Booth: Vol. 4 open for pre-orders!

We’re thrilled to announce that The Shadow Booth: Vol. 4 will be published on 24 October 2019! There’s a suitably folk-horror vibe to this one, with new stories by Lucie McKnight Hardy (author of Water Shall Refuse Them), Charles Wilkinson, Jane Roberts, Gary Budden, Ashley Stokes and many more (full lineup below). Once again, we’ll be publishing as an ebook and a mass-market paperback, which should match your copies of Vols. 1, 2 & 3 perfectly on the shelf.

Pre-orders are open now through our online store. If you’ve enjoyed Vols. 1-3 (or are just a fan of strange, uncanny short stories), please take a moment to pre-order your copy.

We’ve also dropped the price of Vols. 1 & 2 through until October, so if you’ve fallen behind now is the perfect time to catch up! Vols. 1 & 2 are only £6.99 in paperback until 24 October, and all three volumes to date are only £2.99 as ebooks. It’s the perfect time to catch up on all those stories you missed, from the likes of Alison Moore, Kirsty Logan, Mark Morris, Aliya Whiteley, Robert Shearman, Chikodili Emelumadu, Richard V. Hirst and many, many others.

But we haven’t told you the most exciting part! The Table of Contents reads as follows:

  • The Devil of Timanfaya by Lucie McKnight Hardy
  • The Tribute by James Machin 
  • The Larpins by Charles Wilkinson 
  • Drowning by Giselle Leeb 
  • You Are Not in Kettering Now by Andrew McDonnell 
  • Hardrada by Ashley Stokes 
  • Defensive Wounds by James Everington 
  • The Verandah by Jay Caselberg 
  • The Salt Marsh Lambs by Jane Roberts
  • The Box of Knowledge by Tim Cooke 
  • His Hand by Polis Loizou 
  • Terminal Teatime by Anna Vaught
  • Collector of Games by Gary Budden 
  • One Two Three by Marian Womack

Hopefully you’re just as excited as we are. We think this might be the best volume yet. Don’t miss out.

Please show your support by pre-ordering your copy of The Shadow Booth: Vol. 4 here. 

(Ebook pre-order here.)

Fictive Dream Call for Submissions

Fictive Dream is open to submissions and, as always, we’re interested in short stories with a contemporary feel (500 – 2,500 words). We especially like stories that give an insight into the human condition; stories that focus on those moments that change people’s lives. They may be on any subject. They may be challenging, dramatic, playful, exhilarating or cryptic. Above all, they must be well-crafted and compelling.

Check out the Fictive Dream website here.

See our submission guidelines here.

We’re looking forward to receiving your best work!

Laura Black
Editor

Website www.fictivedream.com
Twitter @fictivedream
Instagram fictive.dream

The Gestation of my book of short fiction “Melting Point” by Baret Magarian (Salt)

Eight years ago I was on a flight to Larnaca, Cyprus about to start a holiday in the company of friends. There was something faintly momentous about my feeling of excitement and liberation from the daily habits and deadening routines that normal life can slip into.  About two hours into the flight another faintly momentous thing happened, sliding out from under the tired, calloused epidermis of the quotidian. It was almost imperceptible, an undefined tension in the stomach, a fluttering of emancipating excitement.  I half recognised that feeling, though it wasn’t wholly familiar. I pulled out my Macbook and began to write, and after an hour and a half I had a more or less complete story before me (the story would eventually be titled “Clock” ; it is the sixth in the collection). It needed some shuffling, some polishing, a bit of polyster, maybe a few injections of literary botex, but I had the “thing in itself”, the essential bolus of the piece in front of me. I was rather pleased, never having experienced this kind of creative ease before. Intercourse, fertilisation, conception, incubation, delivery – they were all concentrated, distilled into those one and a half hours.

I can’t really account for it. But then, while I was on holiday, the same thing happened on two other occasions. More or less complete stories more or less fell out of me, or my brain, or what remains of it.  Maybe it was something to do with the Cypriot breezes, the mezedes, or the penumbra of peace that slid over my consciousness like a mystical lover in the night. After the third of these epiphanic creative bursts I began to realise that I might have embarked on that long, vexing, wonderful, self-cannibalising journey also known as the composing of a book.  Now many ideas for stories were popping up like mushrooms, all demanding to be developed and realised. It was rather wonderful and mysterious and I started two, three, four stories in a spirit of excitement and mild delirium.

On a few other occasions other stories “wrote themselves.” I remember very clearly that before I began to write them I had absolutely no idea of what the stories would be about, no idea of what the basic story or plot was, or of who the characters were. I somehow managed to pluck deep into some subterranean crucible of molten creativity and pull out these little nuggets of narrative. Other stories – the longer ones in Melting Point – were more recalcitrant, and had to be planned, structured, meditated upon. Notes were made, diagrams drawn, snatches of dialogue containing important ideas or plot developments jotted down. But throughout all this I was always careful to work on several stories simultaneously, to juggle different projects, so as not to get stuck on just the one story, so as not to become obsessive about finishing it. I wanted to push hard against the threat of writer’s block by fuelling this frenzy of diverse activity. By keeping up the heat I was able to thrawt the forces of inertia and stasis. I may have been influenced in terms of this multi-faceted approach by something Roberto Bolano had once said regarding the importance of writing stories not one at a time, but simultaneously.  In any case it was a very happy writing experience on the whole and relatively free of the doubts and vexations that had assailed me during the writing of my first book The Fabrications.

As I reflect on the (not always, but often) trance-like ease of the composing of Melting Point it seems to me that the following might be of elucidatory value: perhaps after studying literature and attempting to write it for many years the shape of its tropes, structures, devices begin to become in some way ingrained in one’s mind, become, so to speak, second nature and one arrives eventually at an intuitive place beyond the rational and empirical. And at this point it becomes possible to create something without so much obvious planning. Obviously, however, one cannot finish a book while always being in the delirium of white heat inspiration – the process of revision, expansion, problem-solving, stylistic polishing: all of these require full frontal, stone cold sober deliberation. But I do think that what happened to me in terms of the initial stages of writing Melting Point may have had its basis in a kind of abdication of the cerebral part of creation, a giving in to something far more spontaneous, emancipated and – ultimately – mysterious.

     I’m very glad it happened.

 

Baret Magarian is a British Armenian writer who divides his time between Florence and London. His first book “The Fabrications” was extensively and favourably reviewed. Jonathan Coe, writing about Melting Point, observed: “We find here the irony, moral ambiguity and self-interrogation of writers like Kafka, Pessoa and Calvino.” Find out more here.

 

Plug into FaxFiction

Old technology – we all used it, and it’s still there: cassette tapes, floppy discs, videos, 35mm slides, overhead projectors, Ansaphones, games consoles, View-Masters, faxes, Dictaphones, reel to reel, Ceefax… How did we function with these ancient machines, these relics of the future?

Hopefully these six writers hold the answer: Writer-in-Residence at Manchester’s Victoria Baths Sarah-Clare Conlon, Sawn-off Tales author David Gaffney, John Rylands Library Writer-in-Residence Rosie Garland, Creative Writing lecturer Valerie O’Riordan, Bad Language host Fat Roland and Nicholas Royle, series editor of Best British Short Stories.

FAXFICTION 2019

FAXFICTION 2019

In FaxFiction, six brand-new short stories will focus on old technologies, and will each be performed using artefacts gathered especially for the event. Made uniquely for the Refract:19 festival, which takes place annually at Greater Manchester arts centre Waterside, this unique show on Saturday 27 July will also feature the live premiere of an installation commissioned from sound artist Gary Fisher.

Tickets cost £8 (£6 concessions) – book here.

Fictive Dream call for Submissions

Fictive Dream is open to submissions and, as always, we’re interested in short stories with a contemporary feel (500 – 2,500 words). We especially like stories that give an insight into the human condition; stories that focus on those moments that change people’s lives. They may be on any subject. They may be challenging, dramatic, playful, exhilarating or cryptic. Above all, they must be well-crafted and compelling.

Check out the Fictive Dream website here.

See our submission guidelines here.

We’re looking forward to receiving your best work!

Laura Black
Editor

Website www.fictivedream.com
Twitter @fictivedream
Instagram fictive.dream

Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition 2020

SSC20 flyer
Thursday 1st August 2019
will see the launch of the seventh Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition hosted by the award-winning charity InterAct Stroke Support.

 

The competition asks writers to write a piece in any genre in no more than 1000 words. The winner of the competition will receive £1000 and will be commissioned to write four further stories for InterAct Stroke Support over the course of one year. The closing date for submissions is 5pm on Monday 2nd December 2019 and first place will be awarded at the winner’s ceremony on Tuesday 3rd March 2020, InterAct’s 20th birthday. This year the competition will be judged by esteemed novelist Margaret Drabble.

 

Entries can be submitted by email or post and the submission fee is £15.00 per story. Please find more details and terms and conditions of entry on the InterAct Stroke Support website: https://www.interactstrokesupport.org/ssc2020

 

Previously shortlisted competition entrants have been published alongside authors such as Ruth Rendell, Toby Young and Nell Dunn in our illustrated collection of short stories and poems, Interactions, which is available to purchase on our website: https://www.interactstrokesupport.org/shop

 

InterAct Stroke Support is the only UK charity dedicated to supporting stroke recovery by using professional actors to deliver hospital readings and community projects. InterAct specialises in delivering stimulating and inspiring short stories specially selected to suit the needs of stroke patients.  The readings are designed to assist recovery by improving mood, stimulating the brain and providing much-needed entertainment.